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Distress flares are not fireworks

Distress flares are not fireworks

Boaties who use distress flares as a substitute for fireworks displays are not only breaking the law, but are triggering fires, The National Fire Authority says.

National Rural Fire Officer Murray Dudfield said today New Year celebrations caused headaches for search and rescue coordinators and fire crews.

“Search and Rescue act upon the sightings of flares, only to find out there no one was in distress, and fire authorities last year spent hours bringing a fire under control in Nelson which was ignited by a flare,” said Mr Dudfield.

Boatie Craig Callaghan of Nelson set off a distress flare while seeing in the 2006 in Anchorage Bay. His actions resulted in a vegetation fire in the Abel Tasman National Park which forced the evacuation of 150 people from a nearby campground.

Mr Callaghan has paid over $11,000 in fire suppression costs as a result.

“Distress flares are designed to burn at a high temperature and careless use poses a risk of causing injury to persons and, in Mr Callaghan’s case, an unintended fire,” Mr Dudfield said.

“Mr Callaghan was among a number of boaties who admitted setting off distress flares while seeing in New Year at Anchorage Bay in the Abel Tasman.

“This behaviour is simply not acceptable and boaties need to understand that if they cause a fire using a flare, they are liable for all costs associated with suppressing the fire, not to mention potential charges under the Maritime Transport Act and the Forest and Rural Fires Act.”


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